Closing Bell Report

The markets closed higher as the biggest drop in new home sales sparked hopes for a rate cut. The Dow soared 177 points to 12,384 while Nasdaq climbed 24 points to 2350.

On the upside

Shares of Beazer Homes (NYSE: BZH) and Hovnanian Enterprises (NYSE: HOV) rose as analysts suggested that lower home prices may lead to more home sales in 2008.

Kellwood (NYSE: KWD) said that if a majority of shareholders agree to sell their holdings, the company will allow private investment group Sun Capital Securities to purchase the apparel maker.

J. P. Morgan upgraded Plantronics (NYSE: PLT) saying that the company's recent price drop made the stock a good buy.

On the downside

Image Entertainment (Nasdaq: DISK) may terminate its impending merger with BTP Acquisition for breach of contract.

Florida's attorney general is investigating the rebate accounting practices of Systemax's (NYSE: SYX) TigerDirect retailer.

Harmony Gold (NYSE: HMY) is losing 300 kilograms of production each day due to a power outage.

In the broad market, advancing issues outpaced decliners by a margin of nearly 7 to 2 on the NYSE and by nearly 2 to 1 on Nasdaq. The Russell 2000 which tracks small cap stocks soared 14 points to 702.

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